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Best bits of Provence in 7 days

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Best bits of Provence in 7 days

Intending to spend 7 days in Provence at the end of September.Taking train to Aix from London, on Saturday hiring a car and travelling into the Luberon, returning by train on following Friday. Any suggestions for a swift itinerary, without too much car travel, taking in the best bits of Provence, including markets, sights, excellent local food, areas for walking for my husband and me (middle- aged but young at heart and fit!)

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1. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days

I've not been so I can't speak from experience, but I have drawn up an itinerary for my week there in October....perhaps it might give you some ideas.

Sunday: Arles (Roman antiquities and Van Gogh connections) and the Carmargue (Flamingo spotting)

Monday: Les Baux (village and lumiere attraction) and St Remy (Glanum and Van Gogh sanitorium)

Tuesday: Nimes (Roman antiquites)

Wednesday: Avignon (Popes Palace, various musuems)

Thursday: Orange (Roman antiquities) and Pont du Gard

Friday: The Luberon (Abbaye Senanque, Gordes and Rousillon)

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2. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days

If you want to avoid too much car travel, you could use one of the mapping websites to check how far you'll have to journey from your home base for a round trip to some of the attractions: http://www.viamichelin.com/ is good and there's obviously google.

Picking up on your request for 'areas for walking', there are some books, websites and not least, the local tourist offices. They often have very good leaflets with directions around local nature/heritage type trails, which I really enjoy.

There are some links here, the first is for 10 circuits in the Vaucluse department in general:


And this is more specific for the Luberon, though the detailed directions aren't all online:


I liked Gordes/Senanque and the Bories village (there's a walk between them, apparently) and the ochre quarries in Roussillon are a unique walk. I don't know the Luberon area (south of the D900 to Apt / Manosque) well enough to recommend any particular walks, but the villages are beautiful.

Edit: Books - If you read some French, I meant to mention this series is good:


and there's also a series called 'les Sentiers d'Emilie' that I've used.

Edited: 8:38 am, September 06, 2012
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3. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days

If you can, get a copy of the Michelin Green Guide to Provence, which has recommended itineraries and good information on sightseeing in general.

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4. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days

So here goes on The Luberon:

L'isle-sur-la Sorgue is a great (but larger) town...lot's of terrific stuff all around. There is an Intermarche (French Walmart) and a Super U (small French Walmart) literally across the road from one another on the outskirts of town. The outdoor markets are on Thursday and Sunday (bigger on Sunday). It goes from about 9 to 1... we have usually gone earlier so we can get into a restaurant for lunch before noon...super busy after that. It's a huge market and you can spend hours there. Can't remember the name of our favourite cheap lunch restaurant, but you can find it like this. The village and the market are divided by the river. 95% of the market is on one side of the river and a bit spills over the bridge. Leave the main part of the market crossing the bridge with the big yellow bank building on your left and turn right when you get over the bridge....the sidewalk restaurant is about a block. Typical Provencal menu....checkout the blackboard for specials. This is a local's spot. The tourists eat at the riverside restaurants where the market starts.

The best Boulangerie is on the RN 100 as you leave town towards Apt. Look for the busy parking lot on the left.

You can get everything at the Intermarche including wine but you can also buy wine at the co-op in the village. Get your empty 5 litre container there. A good local wine ( a bit more expensive) is Domaine de la Citadelle...you can also visit the winery. domaine-citadelle.com/anglais/situation.html It is in Menerbes, Peter Mayle's village. Chateau La Canorgue is the winery from "A Good Year" and is is very close as well....towards Bonnieux...open to visitors.

This is a good little "snapshot" website That we have used a lot. Make sure you check ou the photos for each village!


This is a great website as well.



Buy Michelin map #245 beore you leave home. It is all you will need.

Other Villages:

We have been to almost every Luberon / Provence village and these are the highlight ones...


Is a very pretty, albeit touristy village that is close. Great foto opportunities as you approach and leave. Worth a visit. You pass bories on the way and you pass it to get to Abbaye de Sananque, the famous Abbaye with the Lavender fields. The Abbaye is not worth a visit unless the fields are in bloom....you can see from the road above.


Very small village but one of our favourites. Very worth a visit. Ancient fortress in the heart of town. Eat at Cafe de la Poste for lunch or at La Bartavelle for dinner ( a must!) More on restaurants later...


... is very pretty and worth a visit. Peter Mayle lives there now. Small market on Fridays. Drive a little further and visit Cucuron....a very cool little village. The movie scene from "A Good Year" was filmed there.


... is absolutely worth a visit. The place to eat there is Le Fournil...it's in a cave! Great views across the valley to Lacoste and the Marquis de Sade's castle.


Unless you want to check out the castle (which is not open to the public) is very small and there is not much to see.


Was Peter Mayles village when he wrote a Year in Provence. Not much there, but interesting to see if you are interested in the Mayle books.


Is pretty cool because of the red rock (ocre) formations. Definitely worth a visit. You can hike through ochre...

Markets and Shopping:

The best markets are Thursday and Sunday in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.

There are also excellent markets in Vaison la Romaine on Tuesday (close to Mt. Ventoux) and St. Remy de Provence on Wednesday. Carpentras is huge as well and is on Friday. We are kind of market addicts and have been to most of them in the Luberon. These ones are the best. Shop for linens, olive wood, food products, Laguiole corkscrews and lavender to take home and go crazy shopping for dinner or lunch. Provencal markets are amazing!

Wineries are everywhere. For the really good stuff, go up to Chateauneuf du pape, Gigondas or Vayqueras. Gigondas is unusual in that all tasting is done out of the co-op in the centre of the village. Gigondas is the "poor man's Chateauneuf du Pape". Same quality for less money.

Drink the way the locals do...rose' is the way to go. Try pastis....you will see it being drunk everywhere.


Are awesome...from basic lunches after the Market to amazing meals at night. Maison Gouin in Coustellet. Drop by at lunch to check out the menu (prix fixe - 4 courses). Reservations are required as this a favourite for locals! This place is awesome and great value. Try it out for sure. Here is more info....this is one of our favorites! http://www.slowtrav.com/france/restaurants/review.asp?a=y&n=maison+gouin&s=coustellet

If there is one place in the Luberon you want to eat at in you short stay Maison Gouin is it. Reservations are a must. Go by earlier in the day or the day before to see what they are serving and if it appeals to you. They will do subsitutions and they will do a menu for kids. This is a LOCALS place. It is closed on Sundays.

La Bartavelle is in Goult and is amazing. A la carte menu. Reservations are needed for sure. Make sure you get here if you want a blowout meal. It is only open for dinner. The husband is in the kithchen and Madame serves. This place is pure Provence. A beautiful setting in a great old building in a tiny village. http://www.bartavelle.free.fr/ We usually go by during the day...knock on the kitchen door and speak to Madame about a reservation later in the week. The chef doesn't speak English.

La Petite Maison in Cucuron is a Michelin 1 star and is great, but is a real blow out place. Big $$$$. We ate there before it got it's Michelin star and I understand that it is really hard to get into now. It is a bit of a drive from where you will be staying. www.lapetitemaisondecucuron.com/index.php…

Ferme de la Huppe is a wonderful Auberge in Gordes. Beautiful setting on a farm and terrific food. Great for lunch and dinner. lafermedelahuppe.com/specialites-provencales…

L'oustau de l'isle is a super restaurant in L'isle sur la Sorgue. Lovely terrace and great food.


In our opinion go to Maison Gouin and La Bartavelle for sure. When planning where you want to go for the week, check out the days they close. Maison Gouin, for instance closes Sunday and Wednesday. For what it's worth we usually at Maison Gouin twice a week when we are there. It is close, the food is awesome and it is a great value.

Here are some good restaurant info sites:




There you go!


Edited: 9:04 pm, September 18, 2012
Rio de Janeiro, RJ
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5. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days


Simply amazing!

Thank you so much for such a complete and helpful post.

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6. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days

Datthecoast...your review of the Luberon highlights will help us choose where to go and where not to bother...thanks

Bedoin, France
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7. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days

Great info. Datthecoast !! Love it. Quick question though, when you said:

"Gigondas is unusual in that all tasting is done out of the co-op in the centre of the village."

did you mean the many vineyards of Gigondas don't offer tastings at their caves?

That has not been my experience at all. Just wanted to clarify for anyone wanting to wine taste in the area.

The last time I was at the little co-op in the village of Gigondas, the wine they were pouring was not in the original bottles. It had been poured into small tasting bottles and numbered. My experience was that many of the wines tasted were not fresh. When I asked when the small bottles were filled, the answer was 'it varies.'

Granted, this could have simply been a bad day, but I recommend tasting the wines direct from the producers. There are several along the same side of the road as the co-op.

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8. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days

About Les Baux: the big draw isn't the village but the ruins of the once-magnificent citadel up above, which too many visitors miss.

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9. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days

FYI, the famous lavender field near the Abbaye de Sénanque is now planted with a different crop.

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10. Re: Best bits of Provence in 7 days

Do a Luberon cafe tour..visit Brasserie les Terrasses in Bonnieux, go to the Cafe de France in Lacoste, and theone at the end of the village in Menerbes.

Some of my favourite spots in the world.